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Bemidji State men's hockey team back on the national radar

BEMIDJI -- Just seven months after the Frozen Four, the Bemidji State men's hockey team is back on the national radar again.

And it's not just because of the Beavers-Minnesota Gophers showdown on tap this weekend.

The Beavers (7-0-1 overall, 4-0 CHA) carry the longest unbeaten streak in the nation into Mariucci Arena Saturday night and a lofty No. 7 ranking.

For any small-school program, let alone a team from the CHA, to reach that high of a ranking is an accomplishment and a nod of respect by the pollsters.

Bemidji State has already earned the respect of Minnesota coach Don Lucia.

"They are going to walk in and be real ready to be a WCHA member next year. And they are going to be all we could ask for this weekend." Lucia said on his weekly radio show. "...They have done a great job in that CHA (College Hockey America), they had a great run in the NCAA tournament last year and they are certainly carrying that forward this year where they are undefeated."

Inside College Hockey has the Beavers ranked No. 10 nationally, noting Matt Read's hot start with 14 points through the first eight games.

Bemidji State is ranked No. 7 in the United States College Hockey Online/CBS Sports national poll and the USA Today poll.

Some in the national media are still talking about Bemidji State's run to the Frozen Four last season. Yahoo! Sports Columnist Greg Wyshynski wrote on his "Puck Daddy" blog that Bemidji State's run to the Frozen Four was No. 9 on his list of the top 10 biggest hockey upsets of the last decade. The rest of the rankings were all NHL teams.

On United States College Hockey Online, there is a poll on the front page asking readers if Bemidji State is the most pleasant surprise in college hockey so far this season. Bemidji State is going up against four other programs with strong starts.

With 849 votes counted as of Thursday night, Bemidji State led the group with 37 percent of the vote.

Bemidji State is playing so well that, if the season ended today, Bemidji State would be the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament according to the USCHO's PairWise rankings.

USCHO has traditionally been the most reliable outlet with postseason predictions.

No. 2 in the PairWise is Miami of Ohio - the team BSU lost to in the Frozen Four last season.

Bemidji State will rematch current No. 1 Miami in the Grand Forks Holiday Tournament two weeks from Friday.